Sunday, April 25, 2010

Merit Pay to Determine Highly Qualified Teachers

Educators are beginning to agree that the current system of identifying highly qualified teachers in the classroom is not very affective. Educational Reform began after World War II and continues today. The consistent theme throughout this reform has been to educate all students equally. Many different strategies are enabling educational reform and teacher certification reform to use used strategies like pay-per performance. A great deal of time spent in the past on many different strategies to improve student performance has not given educators always the results wanted. Darling-Hammond and Youngs’ review (2002), discussed the successes that recent improvements many states made through strengthening the states teachers’ certification requirements. The certification reform is evident due to stronger academic backgrounds requirements and higher standards licensing test scores for graduating teachers. The data indicates that states just need to keep on the course the states are currently on, with respect to gains already made by states, instead of reversing the course based on a fictionalized accounts of what research says about what highly qualified teachers “know and how they come to know” what teachers’ know (Darling-Hammond and Young, 2002). However, regardless of what licensing tests scores, strong academic background, or “what teachers know and how they come to know” what they know, are the students achieving in the classroom (Darling-Hammond and Young, 2002)?

Traditionally educational reform has been an issue left to the individual states. With the 1998 reauthorizing of the Higher Education Act (HEA) required states to publish data on teachers (Walsh, 2004). In addition, the enactment of No Child Left Behind (Bush, 2004) the federal government has now required the states to follow certain policies and procedures. Of these policies and procedures teacher, certification has recently surfaced at the forefront by requiring all teachers to be highly qualified in the content areas that they teach by the summer of 2007 (State of Georgia, 2006). States continue to struggle to have highly qualified teachers in every classroom in our classroom in our schools (Winston, 2003 & AFT Executive Council, 2007). Part of the problem is due is teacher shortages in rural areas, in some urban areas, and in the areas of Special Education, Science and Mathematics (Winston, 2003). School districts have become creative by using distance learning for students so that highly qualified teachers are teaching the students in certain areas of the country with teacher shortages (Brownell, Bishop, and Sindelar, 2005). Alternative certification programs have also become very popular across the country due to the teachers’ shortage and to attempt to get highly qualified teachers in every classroom. More researchers are continuing to pursue to determine if alternative certification programs are actually improving students’ achievement. (Hammond and Young, 2002, Darling-Hammond, L., Baratz-Snowden, J., 2005, & Darling-Hammond, L. 2002). Will pay-per performance make a difference in recruiting new teachers into the field of education or will it be another means of causing a shortage of teachers? Will pay-per performance pay give us data on alternative certification teachers’ verses traditional certified teachers?

There has been much research, studies and opinions published regarding the validity and substance of the NCLB’s requirement for highly qualified certification. These various forms of commentary and conclusions take a wide spectrum of views. There is a conflict of views on alternative routes to certification. Regardless of the route of certification continued communication and continued learning of the teachers is important for the continued learning of the learners (Linek, Sampson, Gomez, Linder, Tori, Levingston and Palmer, 2009). Therefore, will the continued emphasis on learning of teachers continue to be as important when the emphasis is moved off, of paid for degrees and learning to pay-per performance? How will this affect the highly qualified teacher and the pay that the teachers’ receive?

There is definitely different believes on teaching. Teaching is a complex job does require a great deal of knowledge that can only be gained through professionals who have received specialized, formal, preparatory training and the professions must have the ability to make an informal uncoerced decision. Others today think that teaching is more routine work that anyone can perform and would like the guidelines for teaching to be lifted so more people could become teachers (Lasley, Bainbridge, & Berry, 2002).
Regardless, of all the challenges today that teachers face due to certification requirements school leaders continue to be faced with chronic shortage of teachers who have highly qualified state licenses in special teachers, math and science teachers. In an era of pay-per performance and the No Child Left Behind increasing accountability placement on all administrators, teachers, parents and students. (Atwell, 2007). Students need to be taught by teachers who are not only knowledgeable in the core content area but also skilled to teach the content effectively so learning can occur (Quigney, 2009).

Due to the history of the problem of determining whom is highly qualified, whether alternative types of certification are effective, and what type of educational preparatory program is best for teachers, it is important to cut through all the red tape, and find a method to evaluate teachers. The state must determine a method to determine if a teacher is highly qualified currently based upon the achievement of the students the teachers teaches, and the teachers’ formal evaluations. However, should administrators or other teachers do the formal evaluations or observations? How do non-core teachers feel about this?

By pay-for performance teachers will be able to increase the salary made at an earlier age without continuing to school to earn more money. Teachers will be selected as quality teachers’ bases on the achievement of the students that the teachers teach. Teachers will be rewarded for students’ achievement.

What do you think about merit pay for teachers? The state legislator is looking at it again and it may go to the house for a vote this session. The Georgia Education Department is going to apply for Race to the Top grant money again and the state government wants to receive this grant money in August. To have merit pay in place is apparently very important for the Georgia Education Department in order to receive the grant money. Should administrators or other teachers do the formal evaluations or observations? How do non-core teachers feel about merit pay? How do core teachers feel about merit pay?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spending Money on the Football Hall of Fame over Spending Money on Educating the Students in Georgia

The Georgia State House members vote to appropriate to spend $10 million appropriation to help move the College Football Hall of Fame to Georgia. On the other, hand the same Georgia State House Passes 2011 Budget eliminating the National Board Certification Funding. However, Representative Thompson chastised legislators for their poor priorities reminding them that they promised to pay for National Board Certification but were now voting to eliminate funding for the program in the 2011 Budget.

The same Georgia State House that is spending $10 million next year to help move the College Football Hall of Fame to Georgia is going next year to make cuts to QBE funding which means that QBE is cumulatively under funded by approximately 1 million dollars. Since about 90% of QBE funding is spent on education salaries, such large cuts to QBE will inevitably lead to furloughs; lay offs, and increased class sizes.

Currently it is not a secret that the Georgia House and Senate are not providing funds appropriately to fund the Georgia Department of Education. There is rumbling and talk about the possibility of doing away with the Georgia Department of Education due to lack of funds. This was the topic of discussion today in my graduate class. My teacher is a consultant for the state and she learned recently that the state department really does no longer have money and really are going to have to cut back to a skeleton team. She also learned that there is a possibility that the Federal Government may just end of having a satellite office in Georgia instead of a Georgia State Department. I am in shock at this thought and hope that this is just a rumor she heard at a state meeting.

I know we spend a great deal of time watching our school board members. However, we also need to watch our legislative branch. I do understand that the Football Hall of Fame coming to Georgia may bring in some money. However, $10 million dollars in this economy is a great deal of money. Our children should come first in Georgia.